Corner of Main and Lady
Market on Main weathered the pandemic to become one of Columbia’s hottest new venues
by Katie Gantt
With a prime location on the corner of Main Street and Lady Street in the heart of downtown, it’s no wonder Market on Main has rapidly become one of the most talked about restaurants and bars in Columbia. The doors opened in December of 2019 and owner, Josh Willoughby, couldn’t have anticipated the pending pandemic – and all the restrictions on restaurants that would come with it. Fortunately, the establishment’s wildly popular patio component (making for roughly 65 – 70% of the restaurant’s total dining capacity) was completed in May of 2020. Its outdoor dining spaces served as a saving grace amid mandated social distancing. Now, with COVID-19 restrictions gradually lifting and vaccinated diners feeling more relaxed about eating out again, business is better than ever, and Josh and his team are looking forward to busy spring, summer, and college football seasons. The dynamic patio area will remain in its starring role.
The patio area has a stage that is purposed mainly for live music but has other creative uses as well, including occasional yoga instruction. The big screen TV runs major sporting events, and the beer garden is host to cornhole games and beer pong tournaments. The venue is conducive to pets and management is dog friendly, even holding the occasional animal adoption event. They’ve also partnered with local vendors to create what Josh equates to “a sort of mini, week-day Soda City Market.”
“Similar to how Soda City Market operates, we’re allowing select vendors to come and set up and sell their merchandise to our customers. We’ve been holding that on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons from around 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. It’s been a hit! Guests eat and drink with us, listen to some live music, and go check out some vintage 90’s t-shirts or handmade jewelry pieces – stuff that is unique and cool. One vendor has paintings and sports memorabilia. It’s creating a cool vibe that I think people are beginning to understand.”
Market on Main offers separate lunch, dinner, and brunch menus (brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday only). The lunch menu consists of lighter fare with options to include small plates, salads, and sandwiches. The truffle frites; strawberries, blueberries, and goat cheese salad; and the duck club sandwich are popular. At dinner, the menu expands to include heavier main courses of shrimp scampi, spiced rubbed grilled pork loin, and NY strip. Josh describes brunch as a “fun, party vibe” complete with crowd favorite mimosa kits. The brunch menu offers steak and eggs, huevos rancheros, a smoked salmon board, and plenty more. Josh credits the great food to Head Chef, Howard Stephens and is excited about all that his new Bar Manager, Talon Rawls, is bringing to the operation.
As for his philosophy, Josh says, “We’re evolving as we go. We’re trying out good ideas and seeing how they work out.” Things seem to be working out just fine at Market on Main. So well, in fact, that you may want to arrive early and avoid a wait.
1320 Main Street #150 | Columbia, SC | 29201